Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Painted Strawberries


Normally, I write about embroidery. Today, I’m writing about paint.

Sometimes, you can combine the two concepts. You can embroider painted things. You can paint embroidered things. You can paint something that looks embroidered. Or you can embroider something that looks painted!

These sweet little strawberries are painted by Carolyn Phillips, of Sunshine Designs. Carolyn paints little pretty things on silk dupioni, and I think that’s how we started chatting about her paintings – we were discussing silk fabric. Carolyn does all kinds of interesting things with fabric.

But these strawberries – they are especially sweet!

Strawberries painted on silk dupioni

It amazes me that this little stem of strawberries and bug is only about 2.5 or 3″ high. Can you guess what I told Carolyn when I saw it up close?

Strawberries painted on silk dupioni

Of course I told her it would make a beautiful embroidery design!

Stumpwork comes to mind, too – and I think it’s the bug’s fault.

Strawberries painted on silk dupioni

But I feel as if I’m being a bit too narrow-minded. Why is it that when I see something like this – so perfectly rendered in paint – I have to immediately think “embroidery”??!

Look at the dimples around the seeds on the larger berry. That strawberry padded and embroidered and spotted with seed beads…

And all the green on the smaller one? You know I’m thinking about French knots.

That is how my poor warped mind works.

Strawberries painted on silk dupioni

Carolyn also sent along a scan of all the stages of painting the strawberries. This was the first stage. It is rather vague, but you can see the idea beginning to come alive.

This is exactly what happens with embroidery. At first, working out a design, things look a bit vague. But with perseverance to that point where you place those final details with needle and thread, the thing comes to life. With just the right “strokes,” the piece becomes what you envisioned.

I just thought I’d share my strawberries from Carolyn with you. They cheered my day! And I hope they do the same with yours!

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(7) Comments

  1. Dear Mary,
    I like your thinking. When I look at a painting, drawing even a photograph I always think whether it would make a great embroidery piece. My friend Roby Baer from Redding CA paintings lend itself beautifully towards embroidery. I have done two of her paintings already and I am busy with the third one at the moment and guess what, it is also strawberries! As soon as it is finish I will put photo of it on Facebook. I tried the seeds with beads but somehow it did not work so I did it with french knots and that did the trick. I did one strawberry in stumpwork as well as some of the petals of a bloom.
    Kind regards Elza Bester, Cape Town

  2. It’s a fabulous little painting and would be stunning on it’s own. It’s just the mind of embroiderer to always look at the potential of a piece to make it not necessarily more beautiful, but beautiful in a different way. I can see this potential straight away!

  3. There was an article on news.com.au today about how playing too much video games makes some people see parts of the video games pop up in real life, or make unconcious movements like they’re still playing a video game. They made this out to be a bad thing, but I think what you’re saying here goes to show that when you’re passionate about something, and do it a lot, it often leaves you being influenced by it when interacting with other things. Nothing wrong with that I think.

    Here is the (fairly poor) article I’m refering to for curiosity sake: http://www.news.com.au/technology/gaming/earth-to-gamer-come-in-gamer-video-games-are-warping-your-view-of-reality/story-e6frfrt9-1226142341412

  4. When I started reading this post, I thought more of embroidering ON the painting for some reason. These stawberries would be a great embroidery project. Hmmm, maybe that’s what I could do with some of those cards that I’ve kept the fronts from – add embroidery to them.

    Thanks for the link to Carolyn’s blog, she has some very interesting projects going on.

    and now for a question – I notice that often my posts go from “waiting moderation” to disappeared. Am I doing something wrong, like typo in the email address?

    1. Hi, Gail – Well, when you first post your comment, it’s awaiting moderation. So I think that’s what you see right after you hit submit. But since it isn’t moderated yet, if you come back to the site, you won’t see the post necessarily, because it isn’t live yet. I moderate comments in order to avoid spam on the website. It also allows me to see what questions people are asking and answer them in a more timely manner, which is nice. Unfortunately, I only moderate comments about three times a day – in the morning before work, around lunch time, and then in the evening after dinner, so if you comment in between those times, it’ll usually be a little while before the comment shows up. On some days, though, I might sneak in to check comments between those hours; just depends on how busy things are!

      In short, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong! 🙂


  5. Hi Mary:

    Thank you so much for the pretty pictures of, and lovely comments about, the strawberries I painted for you! It was definitely my pleasure.

    Ladies, thank you for your emails and blog visits!! I love hearing how you would interpret the strawberries and leaves in the painting.

    As artists, we view our surroundings in a unique way; for example, a red rose isn’t just a “red” rose, each petal of the rose has its own palette of colors. An individual petal may range from a deep maroon or burgundy at its base, merging into a medium-value crimson, and then into a lighter-value red-orange, vermilion, at the petal’s edge. (Think of thread painting using “long and short” stitching.)

    Are the leaves, calyxes, and stems a bright yellow-green, a medium olive, or a deep forest green, or are they a combination of all of these greens? Do the edges of the leaves, the stems, vein lines, and/or thorns have a touch of red? (Or, yellow?)

    When presented with a line drawing, it doesn’t matter what tools you use, or the surface you’ve chosen, it’s all about interpretation and imagination. Does it excite and challenge you, and does it give you that tiny flutter in the center of your chest?

    Again, thank you!

    Carolyn in SoCal

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